Toronto police investigate posters in East York that promote 'alt-right'
Neighbours disturbed by posters after they appeared on hydro poles on Monday
Toronto police say they are investigating posters put up in East York on Monday that urge people to join the "alt-right."
"It's something that we are looking into," Const. Caroline De Kloet said Tuesday. "There is an investigation and we will go from there."
De Kloet said police have taken photos of the posters and are trying to find out who is responsible.
Police said anyone who sees people putting up the racist posters are urged to contact police.
The posters, of which there are at least a half dozen, showed up on Monday in and around Stan Wadlow Park, near Woodbine and Cosburn Avenues in East York.
"Tired of political correctness?" the poster reads. "Wondering why only white countries have to become 'multicultural?' Figured out that diversity only means 'less white people?''"
The posters also list websites that promise to provide news from a "pro-European" perspective.
On Tuesday, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne responded to the posters.
"It's very important to fight against these attitudes," she said. "It's very disturbing to me."
Meanwhile, a Toronto father of two who ripped down at least three of the posters says the signs will actually have the opposite effect of what they intended.
"When I see people in my neighbourhood now, I want to share an extra smile with them," Ian Daffern, an East York resident, said on Metro Morning.
Daffern said the posters, which begin with words, "Hey, white person," have prompted him to think about what he can do to promote diversity in Toronto and help visible minorities who may be in need.
He said he thinks the posters, which promote hate, will help to bring the community together.
As a starting point, Daffern said he plans to donate used clothing to New Circles Community Services, a not-for-profit, grass-roots agency in North York that offers free clothing services, community referrals and skill building programs in Toronto's Thorncliffe Park, Flemingdon Park, Victoria Village and Crescent Town neighbourhoods.
Keep your eyes open, dad urges
"It's important to keep your eyes open," he said. "I'm concerned about people of colour."
One poster was affixed to a hydro pole on the property of the Toronto District School Board's Parkside Elementary at 401 Cedarvale Ave., for students in junior kindergarten through Grade 5.
Daffern said that he was walking his son, 4, to junior kindergarten on Monday morning when he saw one of the posters and immediately tried to rip it down. The posters were glued to poles.
"When I saw the poster, my son was kind of pulling me onto school. As you say, I just stopped in my tracks," he said. "It didn't take me long to start tearing it down. It was pasted on the pole so it was hard to take it all the way off."
He said his son wanted to continue onto school but he felt impelled to take time to tear the poster down. "I said: I want to get this because I don't like bullies," he said. "This is a racist poster and I want to rip this down."
'What concerns me is people might start to see this as normal'
Daffern said he thinks the U.S. presidential election has given licence to groups in Toronto that espouse hate. He said white nationalist groups uses racist politics to garner popular support and that Donald Trump did not disavow racist groups who supported him.
"It makes me so angry to see this kind of thing in my neighbourhood or anywhere in Toronto. I think the values that it puts forward, they're completely against everything we stand for in Toronto. And for me, to see this just around my home, it makes me really mad. I wanted to get rid of it," he said.
"What concerns me is people might start to see this as normal in Canada."
The Danforth East Community Association (DECA) said in a message to its members that it is grateful that neighbourhood elected representatives have condemned the posters.
"We are very alarmed and disturbed by the anti-diversity posters that appeared in our neighbourhood today. We don't have the answers," DECA said in a message. "Like many of you, we are struggling to find a way to respond to what feels like escalating hate or violence in our community. It won't be solved today or tomorrow or this week."
Coun. Janet Davis said in a tweet: "This hate is unacceptable in our city."